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A Chance To Speak Up On Dean Fund

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This coming Wednesday, at 7:30 p m in City Council Chambers, the CounciFs Dean Fund Committee will hold a spec a public heanng, designed to let the people of Ann Arbor testify on the Dean Fund Sín ! Sth ïe administration and fhê Council know how citizens feel about the use or misuse of that fund. Perhaps some background, and histo7rn,Z i1neded' "Ot OnIy for thse not around 10 ag0 when Mjss E Dean passed away and left the city some $2 rmUion dollars, but also for those wZ may have forgotten some of the details SS, and suggestions - Miss Elizabeth Dean was the daughter of a pioneer Ann Arbor family. promi" nent in a number of business activities but primarily the grocery business. The JhT tí e Clty was stunned to learn Jat she had left the bulk of her estáte to the city of Ann Arbor, to be used "to re Serty'3111' 3nd repl3Ce trees on city Thought at first to be worth about a rm ion dollars, the estáte when finally settled toneel out to be more nearlv $2 mühonutunderthetennsofSewfl he principal was to be invested, with only the incomegoingto the city. ami hWeVer' Was a cnsiderable amount, even under the extremely conservative investment program in wS " Jtwasputlthasamountedto about $80 000 a year, but this year, as a result of JnS nt interest' il amounte " o I As usual with a windfall of that size there have been over the years a consid! sníí Zmber f suestins on how fo I ?h f f m0"ey' and in the earJy years I oses t0 "pur I First the council authorized one year's f lZ a memorial t0 M Dean - the Ehzabeth Dean Promenade on Main Street, and the planting of some 44 spec" SSSfT6 Iocust and little leaf h"den I trees on the semi-mall there used as matching money" to secure ederal funds to carry out the tree píaní ing primarily along Washtenaw, Plymouth, and North Mai i Streets. e were special plantings, or larf ock, done under the Urt Beautification Program, for which federal funds had been authorized on a matching basis. n 1969 the council's Dean Fund C ïich had been appointed tö recommend projeets and sift ideas for using the money but which had never really been active, was reconstituted. After receiving some ideas from the community, the committee recommended formation of a Special Tree Care Crew for individualized care of trees within the city. This crew remained ifi operation for only one year. here have been numerous suggestions during the past years for other uses for the Dean money. Some have suggested landscaping of the city's low-income housing projeets. Others have wanted the fund used to landscape and beautify around some of the city's historical houses. Still others have suggested a city ree nursery, planting o larger stock ian is now used along city streets research on the "maple decline" prob'lem in the city, special spraying or innoculations against Dutch elm disease (esDecially for the city's specimen elms) increased personnel for maintenance work (especially tree trimming), special crews for treatment of diseased trees and even the financing of special bookts on tree care and maintenance tö be stnbuted to city residents. But while there were differences in mum among the administration, coun!, and city residents over how the Dean md should be spent in those early ars, they were minor compared to the I itroversy over the Fund that has recently arisen. Back in October of 1965, when detailed Plans for the use of the Dean Fund were first submitted to City Council, Parks Department Supt. Sheldon Sproull noted remarks to council that the Dean und will be considered an addition to I normal budgeted funds," adding that 'the total shade tree program will be exded by the Dean Funds in whatever manner appears to best serve the people of the city." - r At that time Sproull saw no need to 1 tablish two separate funds and two dis:t programs (one from the money apjpriated to the Parks Dept. Forestry División and one from the Dean funds), L then City Administrator Guy C. Larm Jr. said that he would favor a sepae use of the funds. A separate accounting from the very beginning would probably have been a very good idea, at least in giving the people of Ann Arbor an accounting of both the Dean fund and the city's participation. -, beginning in 1970, the Dean Fund -was simply added to the Forestry Divi budget, with no guidelines for its use i i special projects, special erews, or any of the other suggestions for use of the Fund made over the years. And the following year, the Forestry Division's budget was cut severely, because of Ann Arbor's financial situation. A quick look at the chart accompanying this article shows what has hap pened. Prior to the 1970-71 period the budget line reflects only the contribution I of the city from its general fund to the y División. The jump in 1970-71 is ! caused by addition of the Dean Fund to I that budget. But notice carefully the next two years, n the budget drops severely, and be e to remember that the Dean Fund is ADDED INTO that figure. Take the 1971-72 figure of $266,737 and subtract the $80,000 Dean Fund, and you come up with the figure of $186,737. You have to go back to the period of 1968-69 to find a comparable amount budgeted from the general fund, and even that's a few thousand more. 1972-73 was even worse. Subtracting the Dean Fund gives a city participaron of only $175,160, which is only a little more than was budgeted from the general fund in 1967-68. This year (1974-75 on the chart) looks like an improvement, but it really isn't, for you remember we said in the beging of this column that the money acued in the Dean Fund this year was 112,000. Subtracting that amount gives is a figure of $179,000, only a little better than what was appropriated in 1967-68. (Actually, $3,000 of that $179,000 canie from a separate fund - the amount from the general fund was only $176,410.) This columnist, as well as a goodly number of other city residents, has been critical of the use of the Dean Fund by the city of Ann Arbor. It is our conten-i tion that the city hasmisused the fund, substituting the money given by Miss Dean for extra care for the city's trees for city participation. We realize that city funds are short, and that all city departments and divisions in such a period have to suffer cuts. But we wonder if the Forestry División would have been cut as much if the Dean Fund had not existed? The total operating budget for the city of Ann Arbor is in the neighborhood of $30 million, and the capital improvements budget another $10 million. The Forestry Dept. 's budget is only a very small percentage of that total, and the city cannot make appreciable savings by cuts, however drastic, in that budget. And yet cuts in that budget can drastically affect the city for years to come. A few days ago in the News a story on the local page told of the continued loss of the city's elms from Dutch Elm disease, and showed photos of some of the . giant elms along Washtenaw being taken down. About 400 elms have to be rempved this year, at a cost of over $150 each. This puts quite a strain on the Forestry Budget. A number of these elms might have been saved through preventive spraying, but the city has no spraying equipment (our two mist blowers were junked two years ago - worn out), and no funds to purchase more. Manpower is also too short to allow proper tree trimming. The city should be on a four to five-year cycle, but now it is closer to 10-12 years. Almost nothing is done in the way of treatment of minor tree diseases (elm wetwood, for instance), which could turn into more serums diseases. There are no personnel available. There are insufficient personnel available to water trees in periods of drought, such as we experienced this past summer. We had some special help this last period from the Youth Conservation Camp of the Drain Commission, and several neighborhoods mounted their own campaigns to help out in certain areas, but there were a lot of trees which could not be reached. These are but a few of the problem areas, in addition to special projects, which might be assisted by the Dean Fund, were it not misused for normal activities of the Forestry Dept. I would hope that everyone who is or has been disturbed about the use of the Dean Fund would take the time to come to the meeting on Wednesday and listen, if not say a few words about it. Only in this way wil) we be able to convince Council that this special fund should remain special, and that the city not simply dissipate it in routine operations. Not only is this contrary to the wishes and generosity of Miss Dean, but it also could prove costly to the city in the long run. Fm sure we have others like Miss Dean in this corrimunity, who might be considering similar gifts. If the Dean Fund continúes to be misused it is hardly likely that a prospective donor would trust the city enough to do likewise. But somebody, or a lot of somebodies, have to convince City Hall. So go teil it to them. - ■ A CHANCE TO SPEAK UP ON DEAN FUND mm (cOTlt.) Nov. 10, 197 p. 50